Help! I Want An IVF Baby!
‘Clare’s ‘Chick-Lit’ A-Z Diary Series
(EPISODE 1: A-C)
Copyright 2016 Sarah Darcy
All rights reserved. Shakespir Edition.
Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
‘About This ebook’
Welcome to my ‘fictional’ ‘Chick-Lit’ A-Z Diary, about ‘Clare and Dave.’ A romantic couple going through the jeopardy of IVF treatment, which threatens to break down their relationship.
It covers a range of IVF observations; including my own, happy and sad tales of other couples’ IVF experiences and a few satirical what if tales? So – why should I write this fictional diary? Well, I’ve been through four IVF treatments – so I know what I’m talking about.
Carol Brown (Chick Lit Online Book Club): I loved this book. An IVF version of Bridget Jones Diary. Very witty and sad observations of a modern woman’s struggle to get pregnant.
Susan Caine. (Mum Lit Books):At last, the real truth about IVF treatment. Very entertaining and honest account.
Help! I want an IVF Baby: Episode 2.
Help! I want an IVF Baby: Episode 3.
Help! I want an IVF Baby Boxset: Episode 1, 2 & 3.
A Wayward Du[* ke’s Bride. A Regency Romance. ‘Heat Level 2/3’: (Sensual Duke & Bride series) ‘Lydia’s Confectionery Shop Saga’ in episodes 1, 2 & 3). *Novella & Boxset out now! By Sarah Darcy. *]
***A Duke’s Bride. ‘Sweet Version of above romance.’ Heat Level 1:
(Sweet Duke & Bride [* series in episodes 1, 2 & 3). *Novella & Boxset out now!* By AD James. *]
***Coming Soon: New Regency Romance (Lydia’s Confectionery Shop Saga) ‘A Notorious Bride’ Regency Duke & Bride Series in episodes, by Sarah Darcy.
PATIENT PROFILE: Clare Wilson.
Appearance: Blue eyes, blonde hair. Slim. Height: Five foot six. Age: 35.
Occupation: Primary School Teacher. Infertility Problem: At present, unexplained. Married for four years, been trying to get pregnant for three years, naturally.
Personal comments: A very cheerful girl (talks too much, switched off after two minutes). Intelligent (not too much) but prone to mood swings (very snappy with husband).
Long term prognosis: Although there’s a dip in fertility after 35 (not an old banger yet) still got five miles on the clock.
Candidate for IVF treatment: No – won’t survive one cycle (got no bottle) let alone the average three. A dumb blonde type (nice looking bird with big boobs) – most probably faint at the sight of a needle.
Success rate: No chance.
PATIENT PROFILE: Dave Wilson.
Appearance: Brown eyes, black curly hair. Muscular build. Height: Six foot.
Age: 28 (toy boy, might be a problem). Occupation: Fire Fighter.
Infertility Problem: What problem? Get the feeling he spreads it around.
Personal comments: Good sense of humour (he’ll need it for IVF). Intelligent? (No signs in that department).
Long term prognosis: Very cocky (too handsome) showed more interest in Nurse Andrea, than his wife (my bird – leggy brunette with sexy French accent).
Candidate for IVF Treatment: Yes – will enjoy doing the sperm sample. Not a total wanker likes wine, beer and football, so we’ve got more in common than I thought.
Success rate: If the rumours are true, has already scored a few hits.
Must sign off now. I know I’ve written some very sexist comments in this report. But it doesn’t matter; no-one will ever see them.
It’s your first IVF appointment. You’ve already done a year of fertility tests (ovarian reserve counts, laporoscopy, fertility drugs) and you are still not pregnant. But, your friends and family don’t have a problem – they shoot out one baby after another, faster than lottery balls on a pin ball machine, then hit the jackpot with another pregnancy. You are not sure about IVF treatment. You are scared and upset. What shall you do?
You’ve reached the end of the road. All your hopes that you might be pregnant by now have come to nothing. Next stop IVF treatment. You must be brave and face the fear of the unknown. But, the final decision must come from you.
Your partner may have IVF concerns, but it’s your body that will endure IVF procedures, not his. Are you up for it? Some women will take the bull by the horns and go with it – others will find it more difficult.
Another conflict you and your partner will face – is the emotional and financial drain on your resources. The further down the road you go, from one IVF failure to the next, the harder it gets. Then you have to face a very distressing reality – will IVF make or break your relationship?
Dave and I paid for private IVF treatment at the cost of £3,000 (todays price £6,000). Fortunately, we’re both in well paid occupations, I’m a primary school teacher and Dave is a Fire Fighter.
We went private to avoid a four year waiting list on the NHS (UK: National Health Service Hospital). That’s how long the waiting list is for a free IVF cycle. But, not everyone is entitled to a free cycle. It depends on your age and what part of Britain your Health Authority covers.
However, £3000 was a lot of money for one attempt, when the average might be three or more. But, it was our only hope and we were desperate to speed things up. There are some things in life you can put on hold and at the ripe old age of 35, infertility ain’t one of them.
Dave and I sat in silence in Roger Black’s plush L-shaped office. We felt like two naughty kids ready to be told off by the headmaster. We had paid for a one hour appointment and were expecting a blow-by-blow account of what IVF treatment would be like. As the door swung open, we nervously gulped and sat to attention.
A glamorous French nurse crept in, oblivious to our presence; she quietly shut the door behind her, then checked her appearance in the mirror. Well I assumed she was a nurse, who by appearances, had swapped her uniform for a low cut (get your boobs out for the boys) t-shirt and short skirt. An outfit that Dave was only too keen to observe, as a sensuous French song of amour played in his head.
Going by the smell of her cheap perfume (okay chanel No.5); Miss French knickers was expecting an amorous liaison with the famous Mr Black (IVF King of numerous TV shows/documentaries), before we arrived.
Clutching my case notes in one hand, she hitched up her skirt and adjusted her suspender belt. Dave could not contain his admiration any longer and gave a very loud wolf whistle.
The nurse screamed and dropped my case notes all over the floor. As she fell back against the door, trying to regain her breath Dave, (only too happy to help a slapper-in-distress) picked my file off the floor, and enroute got a very amble view of her plastic tits (I know false ones when I see them).
Fortunately (for me), the door swung open and knocked Miss French knickers to the ground. A very handsome, Mr Black, swept into the room, still dressed in hat and gown – via the operating theatre – with only twenty minutes to spare for our (paid) appointment.
His dazzling smile turned to a snarl, as he watched Dave, put his bird in the recovery position – amidst French groans, which began to excite him (been watching too many Emmanuelle movies in the fire station).
Mr Black gave a very loud cough (reminding Dave, that Tarzan was back for his Jane) and coupled with my jealous stares which said ‘Get yer arse back in your seat now!’ – Dave quickly resumed his position. However, Miss French Knickers made a miraculous recovery. She left the room with a saucy grin with Tarzan’s car keys.
Mr Black resumed his IVF King status, by residing in a large plush leather chair, behind a highly polished desk, set with photos of his wife and kids. Amidst the prestigious academic certificates and medical awards, we looked on in awe, in the smaller, cheaper seats.
Mr Black gave a quick run through of IVF procedures, then enquired with his trademark smile (for private patients only). ‘Any questions?
‘Dave and I looked at each other, totally bewildered. What questions do you ask? Where do you start? Why don’t they teach this in school?
One procedure he glossed over was the egg retrieval.
‘Will I feel any pain?’ I squeaked.
‘Just a little sedative will do.’ He flicked through my file without a glance. ‘You’ll feel all nice and woozy?’
Just as well when you think of the procedure. The egg collection is done near the end of the IVF treatment, after the nasal sprays and course of needles. A needle is inserted through your vagina/cervix.
When the needle reaches a flurry of follicles on your ovaries your Gyni begins an egg collection. The follicle is snipped and the eggs/fluid is sucked down the needle. Then the next follicle is snipped etc – get the picture.
‘You hardly feel a thing.’ Mr Black assured me, scribbling away in my notes.
‘Are you sure,’ I gasped, having nightmares of torture on the rack.
‘Just a few cramps,’ he soothed. ‘Like a period,’ said a man who’s never had a menstruation cycle in his life. The nearest he got to stomach pains was a good kicking on the football pitch, after scoring an own goal.
I knocked Dave to ask a question. He cleared his throat. ‘How long is the..’ He looked back at me. ‘The what?’
Flippin’ heck, do I have to wipe his bum as well. ‘The egg collection..’ (keep it simple, Dave can’t spell retrieval).
‘Yeah, the egg operation.’
Mr Black looked briefly at Dave. ‘The procedure?..’
‘Being tortured?’ I whispered, as Mr Black resumed his scribble. ‘..Hung, drawn and quartered?’
He didn’t hear the last bit or did he – Oh no! A woman whose read her anaesthetic rights on the consent form.
He licks his lips, nearly noon, must be hungry – I bet he’s looking forward to a nice coq o’van, washed down with a bottle of claret. The last thing he wants is another stupid woman taking up bed space, adding another notch to the bed blocking figures.
When you enter a NHS hospital, beware, you are entering the cut throat world of hospital management. Politics and infighting are fought on a daily basis, against a backdrop of meagre NHS funds. Bed space is a premium. The more patients through a bed, the quicker the turn over.
‘Get a bed at any price.’ Is the war cry of the knife sharpening management.
‘Stuff patients’ rights, this is a business.’ They hiss behind closed doors.
‘Post recovery? In a bed? That happened in the 70s, when people smoked and had tea breaks.’
They huddle round the table, at one of their ten million meetings. ‘Best to keep them in the dark. The less they know the better.’ The male contingent smirk. ‘Especially, the women. You can fob them off better than the men. They don’t get angry and ask lots of questions.’ Well, that’s how see it. What do I know?
However, IVF junkies already know that the egg retrieval takes (on average) two minutes per egg. Some eggs collections can be as large of twenty eggs. That’s forty minutes or more. Longer than the standard 10-15 minutes (maybe for 5 eggs).
If it’s a big egg collection, it’s a long time to have cramps, feel sick and at worse faint? Maybe I have a low pain threshold, but what happened to the nice and woozy sensation? So, what is the status of women patients in this masculine hierarchy of hospital management? We’re just above the monkeys love!
Unaware of my lowly status I repeated Dave’s question. ‘Excuse me.’ Mr Black finally looked up from my notes. ‘How long will the egg collection take?’
‘About two minutes.’ He waved my folder aside. ‘You’ll be out in no time.’
CLARE’S BEST BITS: Infertility Q & A Guide.
Alcohol and cigarettes not recommended during IVF treatment, may affect drugs in your body. ‘A no booze and fag fast’ is now enforced at the most stressful time of your life! So no more wine in restaurants and social drinking with friends at the weekend. No more fags for your partner, so you’d better hide those cuban cigars he got for xmas!
Avoid pubs and clubs at the weekend. Don’t go on holiday to Germany to sample their excellent beer festivals, and forget weekend trips to France, on wine tasting tours in warm, sunny, vineyards. Be miserable in cold, wet, Britain. If you are tempted don’t pass the off-license, you might buy some wine and fags, after hearing another friend has got pregnant for the second time, compared to you a non-starter.
The reality of IVF treatment was beginning to take its toll on Dave and I. With cut backs in every department, we began to get stressed out. We couldn’t even relax with a glass of wine or a beer now. But these were the sacrifices we had to face, while everyone else got pregnant after getting drunk at the local pub.
I really felt it on my birthday, near the end of my first IVF cycle. I had my last injection, after an eleven day course of injections. It was a lovely, sunny evening and I was fed up. However, despite the booze ban, Dave, took me out for a birthday dinner at our local Italian Restaurant.
But it was a disaster, the waiter kept coming over with the wine list, despite our appeals for mineral water. Then we tried to enjoy our meal as other birthday parties around us got merry and drunk. The Italians have a saying. ‘A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.’ Too right, we left after twenty minutes – with departing ‘tight bastard’ snarls from the waiter.
We escaped across the road to a pub and naughty, naughty, got two halves of lager. With a quick look over our shoulder, we found a quiet corner of the pub – incase the IVF police came in and confiscated our booze. We sat down and drank the best icy cold lager we ever had. Years later we still remember that beer we drank (ok two beers) on that balmy summer evening.
You are anxious about IVF. Not sure what to expect – scared you can’t cope. You get the blues as the enormity of IVF treatment (the procedures, emotional upset, paying IVF bills) begin to become a reality. Is it worth the drain on your resources?
You cry, shout and get moody with everyone. You are in a no-win situation. What do you do? If you stop now, you get nothing. If you move forward, there’s a thirty percent chance you’ll get that precious baby.
Get the anxiety out of your system. Talk to an IVF counsellor/woman on the bus/the dog. Scream therapy is good, climb the highest mountain and scream your head off. You’ll feel so much better, especially, after a five hour hike to the bottom. Run a marathon. Swim the ocean. Go to the moon. If you have the stamina to do that, IVF will be easy.
Try martial arts. In the Dojo, imagine the punch bag is your no.1 enemy; (Gynaecologist/the in-laws/bitchy boss) then beat the hell out of it. You’ll feel so much better.
Going through my first IVF treatment, was like steering a ship in unchartered waters. A map of instructions told me what to expect, but I had no idea until I sailed the sea myself. Compass in hand, I braced myself for the gamut of emotions that would blow my way.
What would I find? Calm seas or stormy waters? I found a mixture of both, as I sailed towards a brighter horizon. But what would I get at the end of the voyage? A treasure of a baby? Or a ship wreck of disappointments?
After so many ship wrecks I became a hardy sailor. If you are not mentally tough before IVF, you will be after it. I discovered a resilience I thought I never possessed. Going from one IVF to the other, was like running an army assault course.
I bungled through the unknown – crying, drowning, and swimming my way to the next stage. Then I began to learn the ropes and a wisdom began to develop. I came out the other side, tougher, more disciplined – ready to kick everyone’s arse!
BORING IVF TREATMENTS.
The boredom of IVF treatment is getting you down. The same old procedures, appointments, negative results. Everyone else is moving on with their lives, with second, even third babies – while you’re stuck on the IVF roller coaster constantly going round in circles. Life has no meaning. Nothing exciting happens anymore, as your constant quest for a baby dominates your life. How do you get through this?
You and your partner need some time out. Go away for a small weekend break (if you can afford it). Take up a new hobby? Windsurfing. Hiking up mountains. Bird watching. Get in touch with nature.
The fresh air and exercise will invigorate you. Go on coach trips to historical estates. Get a telescope and see the stars and planets in the night sky. Do anything and everything – something different to your daily routine.
After two IVF failures, I began to feel like an IVF Zombie. The whole experience was getting me down. The sheer boredom of sitting in a waiting room – forever waiting for something to happen. I began to feel numb, devoid of all emotion.
Now I understood the battle weary faces of the other IVF Zombies. It was like being caught between two worlds. I was so desperate to escape the emotional wasteland of ‘IVF failure’ and get back to a real life of babies and families.
But until that moment, I was stuck. Waiting for needles. Waiting for scans. Waiting for transfers. I began to vegetate in the ‘death row’ atmosphere. It was like doing time for a crime – being childless.
My life was constantly on hold. No matter how hard I tried to do the normal everyday things; work, shop, meet friends. The constant quest for a baby was always there, niggling away in the back of my mind. So much of my precious time was wasted, sitting around for nothing.
I banged the back of my head against the wall. I tried to have a pleasant day dream, but a recurring nightmare, still lingered in my mind. It always began the same way:
I’m stuck on the highway in a traffic jam, watching the red traffic light. It’s been red for five years. I gripped the steering wheel, willing it to go green, but it’s still damn red. Trapped in my sterile roadblock, I glanced across the other lanes on green.
Car loads of pregnant women and children fly past, in open topped convertibles, waving and beeping their horns. Some women are pregnant with one baby or two, some have three. I broke out in a cold sweat. Everyone has a baby, except me.
The cars quickly moved ahead while I was stuck on the highway. ‘You’re in another world.’ I shout. ‘New babies. New lives.’ I banged my arms on the steering wheel. ‘What do I have?’
‘Hey Lady.’ A stocky policeman stopped his car alongside mine. ‘Calm down.’ He motioned through my open window.
‘No I won’t. I’ve been stuck ‘On Red’ for years.’ I tried to calm the rage within me. ‘What did I do to deserve this?’
‘Listen Lady,’ the policeman queried. ‘I don’t know what your problem is.’
‘It’s not a problem,’ I fumed. ‘Well..Not for other women.’ I slumped back in my seat, ‘What’s the matter with me.’
The police radio alerted the policeman to another call. ‘I’ve got to go.’
‘Don’t leave me.’ I appealed to him. ‘I’m getting desperate..’
‘Sorry Lady.’ He began to drive away. ‘Duty calls.’
‘No wait.’ I jumped out and ran alongside the policeman’s car. ‘I’ll do anything for a baby.’ He stared ahead, oblivious to my pain. ‘I’ll climb a mountain.’ I ran behind his car as it moved away. ‘Do a marathon..Anything for a baby.’
His car began to accelerate. ‘I must catch up.’ I ran faster, puffing and panting. ‘Before it’s too late.’ The police car sped ahead. ‘..Before I’m.’ I stopped to regain my breath. ‘..Left behind.’
Tears began to spill down my face, as I watched the police car become a small speck on the horizon. It was so symbolic. Everyone moving on with their lives, except me. No matter how many times I tried to make it happen – I always slammed into a brick wall.
‘I can’t do this anymore.’ I fell on my knees and cried like I never cried before. All my emotions spilled out. Rage, hate, despair. Never happiness, never joy from a new born baby.
I glanced up to the heavens. ‘I want an IVF baby.’ My voice echoed into eternity. ‘Is it too much to ask!’ I clutched my hair, ready to tear out every piece. ‘I’m going out of my mind..Out of my mind!’ Then I heard a scream. A desperate cry from the soul.
Everyone is having babies. Even the tramp down the street after a one night stand. You bump into pregnant women everywhere. In the chippy, supermarket, on the bus. You’ve become obsessed about getting pregnant. You talk about it. Dream about it. Cross off your fertile days each month with military precision.
You go round in circles on a constant merry go round of ovulation kits, temperature charts and mucous observations (we won’t go there). The constant quest to get pregnant never ends. You do lots of bonking. Well you used to. It’s all so clinical now. Right time, right day. It’s a real turn off.
Get over it! Everyone will always have babies and there will always be pregnant women. So unless you are planning to live in the North Pole, you’ll have to employ some avoidance tactics. Don’t go to kid’s parties. Avoid supermarkets at the weekend. Get a bike.
Anything, to avoid pregnant women, who cradle their bump with that smug mumsy expression (why do women do that?); which soon turns to snarls months later, when night feeds and nappies hit the home front. Okay, you’d willingly change places.
BABIES ARE EVERYWHERE.
I always wanted a baby. I always wanted to be a Mum. Getting pregnant is easy, isn’t it? You fall in love with Mr Right, then the patter of tiny feet fills the home of your dreams. So why hasn’t it happened for me?
I felt like banging my head against a brick wall. As everyone moved on with their lives, with second or third babies (that’s when I felt it). Felt what? On the outside looking in. I began to feel excluded from the ‘real world’ of families and babies. Friends became couples. Couples became parents. When my friend moaned about the never-ending tiredness of motherhood, I could not understand her frustration.
Babies were everywhere. I couldn’t avoid them. Baby clothes shops. Baby adverts. Family, friends’, neighbours’ babies, all cute and adorable, with that new baby smell. I would always kiss and cuddle them. Then it hit me. An empty void inside.
I always loved babies, but now I avoided them. Along with ‘Superior Mothers.’ Who? Super fertile women, who show off their ever-growing brood with smug superiority. They wear ghastly tight t-shirts over their pregnant bump, which scream, I’M PREGNANT EVERYONE! Superior Mothers often talked over me. Talked down to me. Even pretend I wasn’t there. Conversations with Superior Mothers usually went like this:
One day I went to a friend’s christening party. While the kids beat the hell out of each other on the bouncy castle; and their Dads’ exchanged saucy snaps of the latest glamour model on their iphones, a Superior Mother approached my group.
She ignored me, as she launched into the latest cute thing, Tom, Dick or Harry said. Then she spoke about her ‘very pregnant’ state and how desperate she was for a girl – after three boys. As I silently boiled over with rage, she suddenly acknowledged my presence.
‘Clare ‘Darling’.’ Why do bitches always say darling. ‘Should you be drinking that?’ She looked at my glass of wine. The one that was itching to go in her face.
‘Should you be drinking that?’ She loudly repeats.
So I’m deaf and barren now. ‘It’s only one glass,’ I snapped.
‘Clare, I’m only trying to help.’ She lowered her voice to a whisper. ‘You know..In your condition.’
Superior Mother pats her bump. ‘Trying to conceive.’
‘I’m not a binge drinker.’ I knocked back the wine and banged it on the table.
A smirk spread across her face. ‘A new survey came out today.’ Another bloody survey. ‘Women who drink can’t conceive.’
‘I only drink..’ I tried to stay calm. ‘At weekends.’
‘But that’s how it starts ‘darling’.’
‘For goodness sake!’ I could murder a bottle of wine now and her with it.
‘I didn’t mean to upset you.’ She looked down at my stomach. The one with ‘A vacant womb to let’ sign on it. ‘Still no babies.’
I walked away and sat down. Superior Mother sat next to me.
‘Clare,’ she smiled. ‘You didn’t answer my question?’
I let out a sigh. ‘..Still waiting.’
‘You need to get a move on love.’ She shuffled in her seat like a nestling cow. ‘How old are you now?’
As if she didn’t know. ‘..35’
‘Mmmmm.’ Sounds like a cow too. ‘There’s a sharp dip in fertility after that.’
‘Really?’ I must have read every infertility book on the market. It was a fact I was well aware of. But it still hurt to hear it.
‘Still at the infertility clinic.’ The beastly woman continued.
‘Yeah, we’ve had all the tests.’ I yawned, sick of repeating the same boring answers.
Superior Husband comes over and gives his wife a cocktail!
‘I asked for a lemonade,’ she lied, as she noticed my shocked expression.
‘No yer didn’t. You asked for a pina colada.’ He pushed it into her hand. ‘A large one.’
‘I must saviour it. It’s my first drink in eight months.’ She knocked it back in one go.
Superior Husband plonked himself between us. ‘So you’ve had all the tests then?’
Not you as well. When have men been interested in women’s’ bits and pieces.
‘Yeah..’ I fumed.
‘Not getting you very far.’ He pats Superior Mother like the prize cow she is. ‘We never had any problems.’
‘No,’ she giggled. ‘And it happened so quick.’
‘Must be all those pina coladas,’ I muttered.
‘Look at her.’ He stroked the cow’s hair. ‘Blooming with her fourth pregnancy.’
There are three things I could do now. 1) Chuck wine in his face (why waste good wine). 2) Punch Superior Husband in the face (why chip good nail polish). Or the third option?
‘Hey.’ I snuggled up to him with a saucy wink. ‘Does your wife know about last night?’
‘Last night?’ She glared at her husband.
I put on an innocent face. ‘You didn’t tell her?’
‘Tell her what?’ He began to get hot and flustered.
I wagged my finger. ‘You naughty boy.’
‘What’s going on?’ The cow sat forward, nearly tipping the sofa over. ‘Come on tell me?’
‘I don’t know what she’s talking about,’ he said, totally bewildered.
‘Yes you do, sweetie.’ I stroked his thigh. ‘That was great sex we had last night.’
‘What!’ Superior Mother gasped. I made a quick exit as she smacked him in the face with lots of horrible screams. Ha ha..
You are skint and miserable as IVF bills pile up from one IVF treatment to the next. You used to have a posh home, a smart car and went on holidays abroad. Now you sit on shabby furniture. The car’s gone and you’re lucky to get a wet weekend in Blackpool.
You sell more stuff, get loans, beg and borrow money. Life at home is a war zone. You row about money. Never have sex. You’re ready to split. This has got to be the last IVF.
See your enforced poverty as a temporary set back. You can get cars and houses anytime, but not babies. Keep sight of your goal. Even if you end up with nothing – at least you tried. Then move on with your dreams. Travel the world. Be a lap dancer. Go to Hollywood and be a star. Live, love and be free. Life is full of possibilities.
We had to pay for all our IVF treatments because I was over 35 in our region. Everyone on the NHS is entitled to one free IVF treatment. But it depends what part of the UK you live in (creating a post code lottery) and what age you are. You might get a free IVF as early as 32 or as late as 37.
The downside of waiting for a free NHS IVF is the four year waiting list. In the end you go private (if you can afford it) to speed things up. However, it would have been good to get one IVF treatment free, when my taxes paid for other people’s operations on the NHS.
We paid (today's amount UK) £3,000 pounds per treatment (straight forward IVF). We were classed as one of the 15% unexplained infertility (treatments and prices vary). Still, it's a lot of money going down the plug hole when you get a failure.
When you go for your first IVF, you tell everyone – family, friends, even the cat in the street. On the second IVF, you only tell a few people. By the third IVF, you tell no one. With each IVF failure a panic sets in. You are drained emotionally, physically and financially.
Who ever said? ‘Money doesn’t make you happy.’ Didn’t pay IVF bills. It’s all money, money, money. You’re so pissed off you join the tramps in the gutter, with a bottle of meths.
You are an IVF Novice about to start your first IVF. You are scared and confused. Your Gyni (this man with degrees, scribbling in your folder like a 5 yr old) mumbled through the procedures without an upward glance.
What was that? Was that a detailed explanation of my IVF treatment? What am I paying my 100 bucks for? You and your partner look at each other. Then look back at ‘teletubby,’ – and this is the man you’re going to hand your body over to?
Remember you are paying for their services, not the other way round. So after a two minute ramble of procedures when they say ‘Any questions?’ You must assert yourself. If you don’t speak up now, you’ll be kept in the dark, particularly, about consent forms.
If you’d rather be ‘knocked out’ for eg the egg collection say so. Not all IVF clinics do this; they ‘expect’ you to have a sedative, despite ‘anaesthetic rights’ being on your consent form. So next time your consent form is hastily pushed in front of you, read the small print – it’ll save you a lot of sleepless nights.
On one of my egg collection, Dave was ‘er a bit late with his sperm sample. Well you try having a wank 7.30 on a cold, wet, morning. As I lay in my hospital gown (a rag with NHS stamped on it, tied at the back with strings) the nurse kept asking if Dave had arrived. To make matters worse, I was the first one on the list to go to theatre.
At 9.30 am the nurse called in with a bald porter and a trolley. ‘No sign of Dave?’ Not again. ‘Get on the trolley,’ she sniffed. ‘We’ll take you to theatre anyway.’ We rattled down the same corridors, I rattled down last year and the year before. I’ve done this route so often I give directions to the porter.
We swing into an L shaped room near the theatre. I get a white cap to cover my hair – the type you wear packing crackers in a factory – I know which place I’d rather be now. The nurse checks my details on the computer, then double checks with me. Job done, she rushed away.
I look around the empty room, at the bare trolleys and vacant computer screens. I feel scared and sick. Scared something might go wrong, yet sick with excitement. Maybe this time..This time, we get the baby we’ve prayed for.
As they applied anaesthetics in the small room before theatre, I heard on route, that Dave had arrived with the sample, phew, that’s another worry out the way. As I got drowsy the nurse told me to think about holidays.
‘What holidays?’ I sighed. ‘The last one was four years ago.’
‘Well, dream about holidays in the Caribbean sun.’
I floated off to Barbados and danced bare foot on the white sand, under the shade of a palm tree. Paradise.
‘Umm.’ I prized open a drowsy eye. ‘Oh no. Still here.’
‘Your egg retrieval is over, ‘ the nurse said.
‘..I had a luvely dreeam,’ I slurred.
‘Ssh Mr Black is here.’
‘Hello Clare.’ A hazy Gyni loomed into view. ‘The egg retrieval went well,’ he smiled, or was it a snarl. It’s hard to tell with three faces. He comes closer. Ugh not too close.
There’s only one Gyni now.
‘We took 12 eggs.’ I gazed at his mouth. ’12 eggs,’ he repeats. Why is his voice coming from the next room?’
‘Goood,’ I shout. ‘Weell done!’ I lunged forward, my head spun. ‘I’m gonna be sicck.’
Mr Black recoiled in horror, then ran out of the ward. The nurse threw a bedpan in my face, just in time to catch my puke. God bless the nurses, where would we be without them!
Your rows are getting worse. You’ve both reached breaking point. There are a lot of things you can’t do in your life. Can’t go to the pub for a drink (no alcohol). Can’t go away for a holiday (no money). Can’t have a bonk when you feel like it (only on the F day: check the calendar).
With no pleasures in life at your disposal, how do you survive the Monday – Friday work regime? And the latest batch of women getting pregnant (boss/barmaid/woman in the chippy).
Get off that mad rollercoaster and chill out. Time to indulge in (free) comfort treats. Get together with the girls and do home made facials. Have a bitching session (over a lemonade) about rich gynaecologists/desperate housewife with perfect 2.5 kids/or that cow down the street pregnant with her seventh child.
Then put on ‘a feel good movie’ – with no cute kids in (you don’t have any), cute men (no sex till F Day) and certainly, no cute women of childbearing age. Forget it! Put ‘Cell Block H’ on (a bunch of horrible women in prison).
Dave and I always indulged in comfort treats, between treatments; it’s the only thing that kept us sane. I turned to comfort foods. Curry and chips, apple pie and custard and those big sticky doughnuts (the one with the jam in the middle), were my favourite.
Then I’d go to the Dojo (martial arts gym) and throw a gang of hairy men around. Or punch the punch bag till I knocked myself silly. I felt bloody great – once I got off the floor. Dave’s comfort treats were ‘er, football, football, football. Well, you know what men are like, what’s the next thing they talk about after sex, football!
If men had to go through IVF procedures, they’d get a blow-by-blow account from the Gyni; on the pitfalls and what to expect, and you bet football would come into the conversation. It would go something like this:
Mr Black looked at Dave. ‘Do you like football?’
‘Yeah.’ His eyes lit up like Blackpool illuminations.
‘In soccer terms, you’ve been dribbling in the second division.’ My eyes glazed over. ‘Ducking and diving round ovarian reserve counts, laparoscopies, fertility drugs. ‘Is this guy real?
‘Now it’s time to step up a gear.’ Dave’s captivated. ‘You’re in the premier class now. ‘Is he really buying this? ‘Dribbling with the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo.’
‘Yeah.’ Dave sighed. ‘Or Gerrard and Messi.’
Mr Black laughed. ‘We’ll take them all on.’
‘What a dream team,’ they sighed.
‘Excuse me. ‘I banged my fist on the table. ‘We’re talking about IVF treatment.’
‘Of course. ‘Mr Black resumed an official air. ‘I’m giving you an analogy of your situation.’
‘Is that what you call it,’ I snapped.
‘Clare,’ Dave said. ‘Calm down.’
‘Relax.’ Mr Black soothed. ‘You’re with the top team now, and together. ‘His eyes twinkled. ‘We’ll score a home goal in the IVF net.’
Don’t men talk a load of bullshit?
You are a celebrity. You have it all, the looks, fame and talent. But one thing you don’t have is a baby. Part of a high profile celebrity couple, you’ve managed to keep your IVFs a secret, but someone snapped you coming out the clinic and now the shit’s going to hit the fan.
You haven’t told your Agent, he wouldn’t understand. He’s married with kids he never sees – too busy bonking Miss X from Coronation Street. You had a bad row with your partner; he’s infertile, now he’s on the defensive.
The thought of your private pain being splashed across the media is unbearable. You can get over cheating boyfriend stories and bitchy exchanges on the set. But this is too personal. One spotlight you want to stay out of.
Tell your Agent, you must act quickly, before the papers hit the stands. He might enjoy bonking soap stars in private, but when it comes to business, he's a professional. Explain your fears. He will listen, (he doesn't want his 30% walking out of the door).
Then let him do what he's good at (swear, threaten and murder the editors). Your Agent won't take it seriously, when that top part in America's Hunger Games comes along, you'll jack it all in and fly to the States (he'll bang in for 50% then).
I often bought celebrity magazines for a ‘fantasy read.’ It was a great escape from the boring IVF treadmill. However, I soon realised I wasn’t alone in my anguish to get pregnant. I began to read a lot of articles about celebrity IVFs. Unfortunately, the pain of infertility touches everyone. Royalty, film stars and pop stars.
Being a celebrity doesn’t lessen the anguish of the procedures or the heart breaking disappointment of another IVF failure. Okay, they are rich, and yes they don’t have the stress of paying IVF bills. But they still wake up in the middle of the night and cry for the baby they’ll never have.
More celebrities are breaking their silence about IVF treatments. I think that’s a good thing. By bringing it out in the open, it makes us realise their normal people, with the same hopes and fears like the rest of us.
Brooke Shields (American Stage/Screen Actress) went through 7 IVFs and now has two girls. Emma Thompson (English Actress) has one daughter from her IVF treatments. Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewife Star) had twin girls at 44, following her IVF treatments. The list goes on touching all nationalities and occupations.
But it doesn’t work for everyone; Claire Grogan (Irish pop singer) had 12 years of infertility treatments before adopting her lovely daughter. Anthea Redfern (English TV presenter) has been reported of having over 6 IVFs, but sadly not successful. Maybe that’s why so many celebrities adopt these days. Maybe more have been through IVF than we realise.
Help! I Want An IVF Baby! Episode 1. Welcome to Clare's ‘Chick-Lit’ A-Z Diary. Get the 'gossip behind closed doors' of the real IVF experience through the eyes of Clare (and her husband Dave). They are a fictional couple going through the jeopardy of IVF treatment. It covers a range of IVF observations; including my own, happy and sad tales of other couples' IVF experiences and a few satirical what if tales?